London Sunday Telegraph
March 26, 2000
British Sniper Rifle Proves Devastating Hit
By Andrew Gilligan
The Royal Marines have taken delivery of a devastating sniper
that can stop a tank from almost a mile away.
The £25,000 weapon, carried by the SAS during the recent
aircraft hijack, is being issued as the Marines prepare for a
deployment to Kosovo later this year. It is the first time in
that the rifle has been seen outside the special forces. Its
with the Marines may be an attempt to equip them for the dangers
will face in the increasingly anarchic Balkan province.
Sgt "Shep" Shepherd, sniper course team leader at the Commando
Training Centre at Lympstone, Devon, said: "It's the best bit of
we've had for a long time. It's a major breakthrough - until
were still using First World War scout regiment telescopes for
Forty-four Royal Marine snipers are being issued with the .338
Range Rifle, made by the Portsmouth-based firm, Accuracy
International. The weapon is accurate to one yard over a
800-1,200 yards and can be used to "harass" at a distance of
than 1,500 yards. "You won't blow up a tank with this but you
get a kill," said Sgt Shepherd.
A kill is where a bullet, passing through the armour, damages
equipment or the crew, to stop the tank. "You can puncture the
block of a light vehicle. You could also kill a man in body
from quite a way off." The basic rifle, which is four and a half
long, costs £7,000 but is augmented by a sophisticated and
scope, nightsight and laser range-finding equipment.
However, nothing can substitute for the weeks of intensive
marksmanship training that Marine snipers receive. Sgt Shepherd
"We spend days and days teaching people how to deal with the
weather. It's no good having people who can't shoot when it's
Dismissing the stereotype of the lone gunman, the sergeant said
military snipers always operated at least in pairs. He said: "We
spend some of our time in hides, but we often work with the
We do precision fire support - picking key targets in a
Maybe the enemy soldier with the map or the officer.
"It's a morale thing. You don't want your mate dropping down
you - three or four of those and they don't want to come back."
Marine officers say the rifle is the perfect precision weapon,
ensuring that 21st-century essential, minimum "collateral
To Sgt Shepherd, however, another thing is more notable. "It's
to see a British weapon that's actually a good piece of kit," he